Lerici is a small and sweet town which, although dependent on tourism, has a life of its own making visits off season even more attractive. The Golfo di Lerici, aka Golfo dei Poeti, can be as romantic as the occasion may require and one of the traditional restaurants in the little port carrying the same name ‘Golfo dei Poeti’ serves you a most famous Spaghetti di Casa said to have been highly appraised by the Queen Paola of Belgium, also of Italian origin.
Because Lerici’s history is lost in the night of time, we don’t know precisely the year of its foundation, but its ancient name “portus Eliycis” that might derive from the Greek “Iliakos” (of Ilium, Trojan), inspires us to fantasize that its foundation derives from a group of refugees of the Trojan war.
And it can’t be otherwise because the territory presents numerous analogies with the Grecian coasts and beautiful places worthy of Venus to whom one of its bays is dedicated. Lerici was a landing harbor for Grecian and Phoenician traders, and its history has never had dark moments, if anything periods still enveloped with fascinating mystery. The same mystery that enveloped the Etruscan’s origin to whom Lerici was particularly bonded for its vicinity to Luni.
We know that in the VII B.C. the Gulf was occupied by the Etruscans ranging from Pisa to Capo Mesco who founded the city of Luni to which Lerici linked its history for many centuries. Regarding this we propose some lines from Pantero Pantera, XVII century (maritime captain and author of an unpublished pilot’s book that describes the strip of land around 1620):” Lerici, not a very big territory surrounded by walls. From this land anciently called Golfo PortoD’Erice, since it was still called Porto di Luni, from a big city that was of the same name.”.
Because of its importance as a port, Lerici was conquered by the Romans and used for military and commercial purposes. Lerici was an important port in the middle ages, still linked to the dominion of Luni’s Bishop: landing there were wayfarers, pilgrims and merchants that wanted to, through Sarzana’s neuralgic knot, reach Northern Italy and Central Europe.
A ramification of the Francigena door to our Gulf because pilgrims going to St.Jacopo di Campostela and Rome departed from Lerici. There were also two Roman or romee roads departing from Lerici: one corresponding to the actual road that kinks Lerici to Sarzana, the other, dates back to the layout of the Aemilia Scauri then Aurelia, linking Tellaro to Lerici through a beautiful route amid olive groves and Mediterranean scrub that touches numerous sites of historical and archaeological importance.
Lerici was used by the Lucchesi for trading leather and cloth, then disputed over by Genoa and Pisa during the maritime Republic period.
In 1241, after the battle of Giglio, Lerici was occupied by the Pisani who built the Castle and the walled-hamlet. After fifteen years Genoa conquered it again and expanded the Castle. In 1528 Lerici was theatre to an event that changed Europe’s destiny: it was between the walls of one of his palaces that Andrea Doria sought refuge and decided to pass from France to Spain, depriving France of its dominion over the Mediterranean in favor of Spain.
Between the 1600’s and 1700’s Lerici experienced its greatest urban development thanks to the presence of a noble ship owner that had his residences in the hamlet and to whom remain the ancient palaces and villas. In the 1800’s glorious pages were written concerning the palaces and villas, and regarding the history of the Risorgimento, so much that Garibaldi called its population “the strongest and most energetic of Italy”. Carlo Pisacane gathered in 1857 in Lerici eight of his faithful companions for a expedition to Sapri, but it was Giuseppe Petriccioli who impersonated more the Risorgimento’s spirit raising the three-colors together with Felice Orsini and Carlo Pisacane on the Duomo of Milan after having battled at the barricades during the “Five Days”.
The beaches of Lerici and San Terenzo (the neighboring town) are the first beaches south of the Cinque Terre. The beaches are few and often over-crowded in high season, but in June and September you will enjoy the mild climate the empty beaches the great eating and the quiet life of a traditional village on the Italian north west coast.
Where to stay in Lerici
Hotels, B&Bs, apartments and villas in Lerici: search and make a reservation here.
Walking itineraries from Lerici
Lerici, “The pearl of the poet’s Gulf” located in the extreme eastern part of the Ligurian Region, greets you with a scenario dear to poets and writers: the splendid hills studded with hamlets and villas, constantly changing waters, and a sea of a thousand faces ideal for a vacation and water sports.
Beautiful to see and discover, this coastal and hilly town is a maze of little squares and alleys: here the ancient is reserved, and the new never tends to overwhelm.”
Geographic position: Latitude 44′ 04′ N – Longitude 9′ 55′ E
Average temperature in December-January: 14°C
Average temperature in June-September: 23°C
Average water temperature in July at a depth of 2 meters: 24°C (Data provided by the ENEA Agency for new technology, energy and environment-St.Teresa tel. 0187/53611)
Surface: 15920 sq.m.
Altitude: 10 M.
Lerici-Maralunga-Lerici (walking time: 45 minutes)
From Piazza Garibaldi, ancient port of call seat for naval construction, go up the “Carpaneta”(Via A.Doria), you’ll pass in front of the Palace where Andrea Doria stayed, and reach the provincial road fro Tellaro. Turn right and continue along the ex military road that leads to the naval coast battery from the 1800’s at Maralunga. The road remains at a certain height so you have beautiful views of Lerici and the “Caletta”. Returning you can descend from the “Tagliata”, visit the Poggio and the Castle and therefore come back by way of the ancient Pisano hamlet or descend at the Calata Mazzini pier (Lerici’s wharf).
Lerici-La Serra-Lerici (walking time: 2 hours)
Going up the same “Carpaneta” and reaching the road for Tellaro, cross it and go up an easy mule-track till La Serra with a view of the Gulf’s eastern part. Following a network of ancient trails you encounter the evidence of a megalithic civilization with stone constructions called “cavanei” very similar to the Sardinian nuraghis. From La Serra you can descend along the provincial road till Barcola and, by way of the mule-track of via Canata, re-enter comfortably on the sea’s promenade, near the gardens.
Lerici-Pugliola-Solaro-San Terenzo (walking time: 1 hour and 50 minutes)
Go up via Canata, reach Barcola, where the ancient cart-road from the XVII century leaves the sea panorama, you arrive in Pugliola, ancient XIII century settlement. From there continue towards Solaro where you encounter the “Orto Magno” a complex of terracing and walled-tubs, probably ancient roman hot baths. Coming to the ancient hamlet of Solaro, go over a fly-over bridge that leads to the locality of San Terenzo.
San Terenzo-Falconara-Santa Teresa-San Terenzo (Walking time: 1 hour and 45 minutes)
From the small square at the feet of San Terenzo’s Castle you can go up towards the Falconara hill that overlooks the village, till seeing the Gulf, a spectacular marine landscape, indeed. In this place, it’s recounted that there might be the tomb of the “Cavaliere” (from the legend of a crusader buried there). From Falconara you can descend on the same road or along the paved road that passes by Pozzuolo. From there you can comfortably continue the walk till Forte di Pianelloni and to the 1500 fortress of Santa Teresa, where the “Scuola di Vela” (Sailing School) is located and where you can admire the nearby “punta dell’Oca Pelata” once probably utilized as a landing during roman times.
Underwater visit to the “Caletta” Archaeological Park
Between Lerici and Tellaro in the “Caletta” bay a ship for transporting stone from I B.C. lays submerged, carrying marble from Carrara to Provence, it sunk in our waters. There are remains of the ship and a section of column of great proportion (the other half is conserved at the Archaeological Museum in Luni). The “Caletta” bay is now an interesting Archaeological Park”, visited by skin divers and the little beach is accessible by a public path.
Lerici-Barbazzano (walking time: 1 hour)
Going up the “Carpenata”(via Doria of Lerici) you reach the junction for Maralunga. In front of civic number 3 on the provincial road for Tellaro, an easy trail departs and leads to the ancient hamlet of Barbazzano. Inserted in an olive grove of roman recollection, particularly suggestive due to its natural and urban combination. The hamlet of roman origin, reached its most splendid period in the Middle Ages (XII and XIII a. D.): located in a strategic point it had a landing at the sea. The “Sailors of Barbazzano” that participated in historical battles are famous. Barbazzano appears in important treaties between the Pisa and Genoa Republics.
Tellaro-Quattrostrade-Punta Corvo (walking time: 3 hours)
A walk that comes upon splendid views and winds around communication trenches and sheer drops to the sea. Leaving from Tellaro, through the “Via Grande” or “Romana” (ancient road of communication with Luni through Ameglia) you come to a crossroads of “Quattro Strade”.
Following the ancient road you continue towards Punta Corvo. Along the route you encounter an ancient furnace, “Torre di Groppina”, ancient guardian of seas and through “Zezigna” (from the Greek “Gheghiges”, the giant’s land), you reach Punta Corvo. You encounter on this promontory the ancient convent in Dante’s memoir. From Punta Corvo you can admire the Apuans, the Tuscan coast, Corsica and the minor islands of the Tuscan archipelago.
Tellaro-Spiaggioni-Tellaro (walking time: 1 hour)
For those who love steep trails, from the previous mule-track the trail winds for the Big Beaches, along which you encounter the Torre Groppina, ancient watch and protection tower for the sudden raids of pirates.
Pugliola-San Lorenzo al Carpione-Pugliola (walking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes)
Going down by way of the mule-track that leads to the state road near the second Tunnel of the Scoglietti at the Guercio locality, and continuing about a hundred meters in the direction for Sarzana, you come to a dirt road junction on the right, near an ancient furnace. Going up this road, rather steep, but easily walked you reach a plateau, at whose summit you encounter the ruins of the ancient Pieve di San Lorenzo.
Pozzuolo-Monte Canarbino (m.300) – Pozzuolo (walking time: 2 hours)
Taking the communal road for Pitelli, you reach the junction of “Tre Strade”, continue beyond it for about 10 minutes then go up the mule-track till the Cararbino military road. Continuing along this road with beautiful views of the Gulf’s outlet and Lerici, you reach the Cararbino Fort, summit and watershed of the Magra Valley.
A strip of the Lerici territory that reaches the Magra river with a fraction of the Senato. In the Middle Ages it was a crossing point for boats. Today it’s a waiting place for bird watching whether it be for coots, king fishers or herons (in spring and late autumn).